Save the Children supports the comments from Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the Daily Telegraph today that Australia should focus its aid efforts in the Pacific.
“Save the Children welcomes the Prime Minister’s commitment today that he will prioritise the Pacific when it comes to foreign aid, but our decimated aid budget can only stretch so far,” Save the Children Director of Policy and International Programs Mat Tinkler said.
“Investing in the Pacific represents a strategic opportunity for Australia to support regional stability, enhance our influence and shape development outcomes.
“To achieve this, however, Australia must significantly lift its aid budget from its lowest ever level.”
Australia’s annual spending on foreign aid has been cut by more than $11 billion over the past five years.
“The Prime Minister has the opportunity to lift the aid budget in the Mid-Year Economic Fiscal Outlook in December,” Mr Tinkler said.
“We know from his first speech to Parliament that the Prime Minister understands the importance of foreign aid and doing more.
“We welcome commitments to strengthen our investment and our influence in the Pacific region from both the Government and the Opposition.”
The Prime Minister must remember his words from his first speech to Parliament in February 2008: “The need is not diminishing, nor can our support. It is the Australian thing to do”.
“Many Pacific nations are still facing enormous need, for example, almost half of all children in Papua New Guinea have stunted growth from chronic malnutrition,” Mr Tinkler said.
The rate of child sexual abuse (of girls aged below age 15) in Vanuatu is amongst the highest in the Pacific at 30 per cent. In PNG more than half of all cases of sexual violence are against children under 16.
An estimated 25 per cent of children are out of school in PNG and 77 per cent of girls do not enrol in secondary education in PNG.
Full February 2008 speech from Scott Morrison.
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